Leonardo da Vinci observed that tree branches together are always as thick as the trunk beneath them. This is true, and there are some good ideas why.
In 1896 Paul Otlet set up a bibliographic query service by mail: a 19th century search engine.
What do the River Avon, the Gobi Desert, and the La Brea Tar Pits have in common? Redundancy.
In 1930 the Swedish match magnate Ivar Kreuger negotiated a legal monopoly with Germany; it lasted for fifty three years.
The Tsar Bell in Moscow is the largest extant bell in the world – but it has never been rung.
In 1981 Phillip Lewis released potato chips flavoured like roasted hedgehog. In 1982 the UK government prosecuted him for false advertising because the chips did not contain real hedgehog.
John F. Kennedy, Aldous Huxley, and C. S. Lewis all died the same day. The following day, Doctor Who premiered.
Julius Caesar won the Siege of Alesia with a military tactic known as investment: build walls around the besieged settlement’s own walls, and and then build another layer of walls around those ones.
The Cloaca Maxima in Rome is one of the world’s first sewer systems. It still works today, and with good reason: it has its own goddess.
Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky composed Pictures at an Exhibition based on a journey through his late friend’s art exhibit – but what happened to the pictures?
Imagine an elevator with no doors that never stops: this is the paternoster lift.
In 1994 the art duo K Foundation burned a million pounds in cash. They did it on purpose.
The Sea of Azov, between Ukraine and Russia, is never more than fourteen metres deep. Parts of the sea are shallow enough to wade across.
The solfège system teaches Western music scales: do re mi fa sol la ti do. But who is “do”?
Bir Tawil is a wedge of land between Egypt and Sudan. Neither wants to claim Bir Tawil: it is one of the only unclaimed territories in the world.
Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde set the course of 20th century classical music by keeping the audience in suspense for four hours with a single unresolved chord.